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Jul 21, 2020

4000 Armchairs to be Purchased in Time for New School Year

Schools are scheduled to reopen on August tenth and across the country, preparations are underway to keep students safe when they return to classrooms as COVID-19 cases inch upward.  The Ministry of Education is putting in place the required protocols for the new normal in classrooms. Social distancing is a major factor under the new guidelines; it requires that students now have to sit three feet apart. Today, the Ministry of Education received a significant donation from the Lord Ashcroft COVID-19 Relief Fund that will be used to acquire furniture for one hundred and five schools countrywide. Here is News Five’s Isani Cayetano with a report.


Dr. Carol Babb, Chief Education Officer

“With the donation received, we will get four thousand plus [pieces of] furniture, a hundred and three schools will benefit from this kind donation.”


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Preparations are ongoing at all primary and secondary schools across the country ahead of the start of a new academic year.  A generous donation of two hundred thousand dollars from Lord Ashcroft’s COVID-19 Relief Fund will go a long way in getting them ready for August tenth.


Lyndon Guiseppi

Lyndon Guiseppi, Chair, Lord Ashcroft COVID-19 Relief Fund

“This project this morning, the purchase of armchairs for the schools is just simply a continuum of that.  I met with Dr. Babb last week and she discussed with me a number of initiatives which were required to facilitate the reopening of schools, including the purchase of hand wash basins, as well as the purchase of armchairs for students.  We felt that this particular initiative, the acquisition of armchairs was particularly important, given the need for social distancing in class and it’s against that background that we met as a committee and decided to fund this initiative.”


Approximately a hundred thousand students, at both levels of education, have been out of school since March twentieth when classrooms were officially closed in anticipation of COVID-19.  With schools reopening in the next three weeks, there is a push to secure everything that is needed to meet new requirements.  Money remains the greatest challenge.


Jacqueline Welch

Jacqueline Welch, Chair, General Managers Association

“I must say it’s a great economic relief for all the schools.  We serve most of the schools with children who have economic challenges so the principals will breathe a sigh of relief when they hear about this donation because that was a major problem, the social distancing aspect.”


Traditionally, a majority of the classroom furniture found in schools across the country are benches that seat two to three students.  These tables and chairs are not conducive to social distancing which is one of several measures to be enforced in the new school year.  In this context, students would need to be a minimum of three feet apart.  When Chief Executive Officer Dr. Carol Babb approached the chairman of the Lord Ashcroft COVID-19 Relief Fund for financial assistance, she was quite anxious.


Carol Babb

Dr. Carol Babb

“Actually when I presented the form and the list to Mr. Guiseppi, I was like, I was afraid.  I thought he was going to say, “Oh my god, so much?”  But he looked at it, we did the math and he said through the Lord Ashcroft COVID-19 Relief Fund they will donate all of the furniture and I was shocked and grateful at the same time.”


The Lord Michael Ashcroft COVID-19 Relief Fund was established while he was in Belize a few months ago, after pondering ways in which he can help the country in its pandemic response.


Lyndon Guiseppi

“During those discussions, he decided upon idea which was the establishment of a relief fund which we have since dubbed the Lord Ashcroft COVID-19 Relief Fund.  That fund was initially established in the amount of ten million Belize dollars and there was a committee that was established along with that comprising of myself, as chairman, Mr. Michael Coye and Dr. Hidalga Metzgen who is also a member of the board of directors of the Belize Bank and that fund has today been making donations and contributions to several initiatives, including the importation of P.P.E.s, ventilators, PCR equipment.  We are doing work with the Red Cross and a number of other charitable organizations in and across Belize.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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